(Friendly warning that this post is rife with spoilers for both “Mr. Robot” and “How To Get Away With Murder,” so proceed with caution.)
If you were somehow able to pull yourself away from the nonstop excitement of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games this past week (I’m not being sarcastic, I actually got super invested in the games and now I don’t know what to do with my life) then you might have seen the most recent episode of “Mr. Robot” wherein a big reveal was made. We learned that Elliot has not been living with his mom and adhering to a strict daily schedule of his own making (as we had been led to believe by Elliot), but in fact he’s been in prison for a crime that is yet to be revealed (although, let’s be real, it could be just about anything at this point) and was using this illusion as a security blanket of sorts.
A major twist like this would be expected to elicit shocked gasps and “I totally didn’t see that coming” tweets and Facebook posts, but it didn’t. This was largely in part because many people saw it, or something like it, coming. Also? It basically already happened in the first season with the big reveal that the titular Mr. Robot wasn’t in fact the shady leader of fsociety, he was just Elliot’s mental manifestation of his own deeply rooted issues taking the form of his dead father.
“Mr. Robot” isn’t the first show in recent years to seemingly repeat (or at least, utilize in a similar way twice) a significant plot twist or reveal. Another one that comes to mind for me is ABC’s good ‘ol law & murder series, “How to Get Away With Murder.” Each of the first two seasons began with a big whodunnit (“Who killed Annalise’s husband?” “Who shot Annalise?”) and ended its midseason finale with the answer. Both times it was the same central character: Wes, a student of Annalise’s who just can’t seem to get out of his own way. The first time it was somewhat surprising and exciting. The second time? I don’t know about other viewers, but I definitely yelled “Really!?!” in my best Amy Poehler voice at my TV. It might not have been something I predicted happening, like in the case of “Mr. Robot,” but it was frustrating nevertheless.
Why is it that these two shows have decided to do this? With “Mr. Robot,” it makes a little more sense. The show seems to constantly be playing with the idea of reality and illusions, given our unreliable narrator in Elliot and his clear lack of a grasp on what’s really going on at any given time. The show thrives on mystery and, as creator Sam Esmail has said in various interviews since the big season two reveal aired, mystery and the uncertainty that comes with it will always be a big part of the show. That I can get behind, especially because there are still five more episodes (plus the promise of a third season) for Esmail to work his magic on.
When it comes to “How To Get Away With Murder” though, the excuses are a little more murky and a little less acceptable. Wes and Annalise’s weird, complicated relationship seems to be the focal point of the series (at least, so far) and Wes shooting Annalise (after killing her creep of a husband in self-defense the season prior) brought it’s own fair share of reveals that propelled the second half of the season forward. I can’t help but feel though that those reveals could be have brought forward in a way that didn’t involve doing, in essence, the same thing again. Even the creator of the show, Pete Nowalk, implied in an interview that they decided it would be Wes before they had really thought out the why of it all. On a show with so many characters who could easily make the decision to do something like that, it seems incredibly cheap to go with the one who already did the season before.
It might seem like I’m beating a dead horse, bringing up a repeated plot twist from last November, but after seeing the latest “Mr. Robot” episode I couldn’t help but remember the way I felt watching “How To Get Away With Murder’s” last midseason finale. While one is definitely more acceptable and understandable than the other, both “Mr. Robot” and “HTGAWM” seemingly took something that worked for them before and reused it, albeit somewhat differently, in the hopes of achieving the same effect. Did it work? I guess that’s really up to you. I clearly know where I stand.
What did you guys think of “Mr. Robot’s” latest reveal? Did you see it coming? Wondering how I can enjoy watching both “Mr. Robot” and “How To Get Away With Murder,” two vastly different shows? What can I say, I’m a woman of many varied tastes. Now before I go to try and find something about the Olympics that I haven’t already watched or read, I leave you with this, just like I always do: